About Us

Our Mission:

Communication Across Barriers is dedicated to broadening and improving opportunities for people who live in the war zone of poverty
Our far reaching goals:

  • Assist communities and organizations to “fight poverty, not the people who live in it.” We illuminate real and structural causes of poverty and provide life changing information that shatters common myths and stereotypes about people who live in poverty
  • Offer research-based strategies and insider perspectives for improving relationships, communication, and opportunities across poverty barriers
  • Develop an army of speakers and trainers who can educate and assist communities in breaking poverty barriers
  • Provide models and programs that increase a connected, collaborative, community-wide approach to fighting poverty
  • Educate and engage people not in poverty with tools and avenues for making a difference in their own communities

Our History:

In 1989, Dr. Bob Fulford (a significant mentor to Donna Beegle) learned that Donna's brother, Wayne, was in prison and asked if he could visit him. On that visit, the Superintendent shared that his organization was struggling with the impacts of poverty on people in prison. Dr. Fulford told the Superintendent that he and Donna could develop trainings that would improve communication and relationships across poverty and race barriers. Dr. Fulford was teaching at the University of Portland and one class that was particularly relevant was called “Communication Across Barriers.” Dr. Fulford asked Donna if she would like to start a consulting business with him. Donna was working on her Master's degree in Communication at the time. She said yes! Dr. Fulford asked her what title she would like and jokingly, she replied, “president.”

The next time Donna saw Dr. Fulford, he had business cards that listed her as President and him as VP. He had filed for a business license in the name of Communication Across Barriers and had secured their first contract with the State of Oregon Department of Corrections. Dr. Fulford and Donna developed a 10 week curriculum that included a series of videos, workbooks and facilitator guide books for improving communication and relationships across Poverty Barriers. Communication Across barriers was born!

Dr. Fulford died of a heart-attack in 2000. His wisdom and knowledge continue to guide Donna and the Communication Across Barriers team as they develop life changing strategies, trainings, and materials for improving communication, relationships, and outcomes for people living in the war zone of poverty.


Communication Across Barriers grew from a small two-person partnership, into a nationally and internationally gold standard consulting firm. We assist organizations and communities who want to improve outcomes for people living in poverty. Our team provides keynote presentations, workshops, Poverty and Coaching Institutes, Poverty 101 online course, the PovertyBridge Project (which includes Opportunity Conferences for youth and adults living in poverty and the Navigator/Neighbor program for matching trained citizens who are not in poverty with citizens who are in poverty), Poverty Competency assessments, customized action planning tools, books, articles, research, informative free newsletter, a resource focused website, and other educational materials for making a difference. We recently developed our Gold Star speaker program to meet the growing need for addressing poverty impacts in communities.

Our Team:

  • Dr. Donna M. Beegle, President
  • Charles Forbes, Vice President
  • Debbie Ellis, Director, Research and Writing
  • Dr. Ed Wilgus, Agent and Partnership Manager
  • Barb Lemcool, National Director, The PovertyBridge Project
  • Mary Marois, Opportunity Coach
  • Jan Warren, Opportunity Coach
  • Ranae McCauley, National Director Youth Opportunity Conferences/Opportunity Coach
  • Lynda Coates, Gold Star Speaker
  • Anette Carlisle, Gold Star Speaker
  • Elia Moreno, Gold Star Speaker
  • Jared Moultrie, Office Manager
  • Melvin Hood, Shipping and Receiving
  • Wayne Austin, Research